It’s Not Just for Funeral Homes

What isn’t?

Grief.

It comes at different times and different places.

It’s never the same for two people – even if they are grieving the loss of the same person.

Some of the times are “somewhat” predictable – like your Dad’s 81st birthday that came 15 days after he went home to be with Jesus.

Like the day your daughter became the 2nd Dr. Vanderwell (http://tomvanderwell.net/2018/04/the-passing-of-the-torch-a-tale-of-two-doctors/)

Some of them are totally unpredictable. 

Like when you’re having devotions and there’s something that you aren’t clear on.   “I think I’ll ask Dad……”

Oh wait, I can’t ask Dad.   I can’t ask him about that Bible passage. 

I can’t…. 

I can’t……

There’s a lot of things I can’t do because there’s a lot of things my Dad can do right now that he couldn’t. 

Like sit down and talk with John, the author of Revelations.

And ask him what I was going to ask my Dad.   In Revelations 20:11-15, it talks about the dead being judged by what they had done.   What does that mean?

Does “what they had done” mean whether or not they chose to believe?   Because if it means the works they did, isn’t the thief on the cross totally screwed over?   I mean think about it, he was a Christian for maybe 10 minutes before he died?

I think “what they had done” has to mean whether they chose to believe and chose to live for Christ.   It’s really the only way any of us have a chance at Heaven – and I believe that’s what John means.

Hey Dad – can you ask him the next time you see him?

In the mean time, any of my minister or seminary friends who want to chime in with your thoughts, please do so.

Tom

Once upon a time there was a family.

In this family, there was a Dad. Dad went to work every day to provide for his family.

In this family, there was a Mom.

Mom took care of their children.

As the children grew up, life was busy but it was good.

And if you went down their street, they were part of a community.

But……

Dad and Mom weren’t born in their town.

They were born elsewhere.

But this was their town.

They were raising a family…

They were making a difference….

They were part of their town.

Until one day, the government decided they weren’t part of their town.

Dad went to work one morning.

And he didn’t come home.

Not because he didn’t want to come home.

He didn’t come home because the government said that wasn’t his home and that this wasn’t his town.

The government decided that he was no longer allowed to live there and no longer allowed to be part of that community or to be with his family.

Shock, grief, horror ran through the community, how could this happen?

Mom carried on, even in her grief and shock.

She had to – they have children who needed her – more than ever.

Dad was gone – she had two roles to play.

And then it happened.

The unthinkable again.

Mom went to the store.
And.She.Didn’t.Come.Home
The government decided that she didn’t belong in that town either.

That town where they were raising a family.

That town where many people considered them neighbors and friends.

Why? You might be asking that question. A lot of people asked that question.

Ask a different question – “If Dad and Mom were born there, if Dad and Mom were part of the majority culture and race in the town, do you think they would be hauled away by the government and told they can’t be there?”

So what happened to Dad and Mom?

I don’t know.

I have another question that you and I and we all need to think about……

What town did/does this story take place in?

Berlin Germany in the 1930’s?

Or Grand Rapids Michigan in 2018?

TJV

The Passing of the Torch – a tale of two Doctors

Once upon a time, there was this kid from Muskegon (for those of you not from Michigan, that’s about 45 minutes northwest of Grand Rapids.)

As he grew up, he wanted to become a preacher.

So he did.

And it was good.

And he was good at it.

And God used him to serve and help many people.

And that kid went on to get additional education. After a while, he got another Master’s degree and then he got a doctorate.

But he never wanted to use that title. That’s just not what he was about. He was about helping people and serving God.

And it was good. It wasn’t easy but it was good.

Many times, it was hard but it was good.

And God used him to serve and help many people.

Four of those hard times came when his body was hit by cancer.

Those times impacted many people, touched many lives, encouraged many other people going through hard times.

In 1972, he beat the cancer.

In 1984, he beat the cancer.

In 1990, he beat the cancer.

And then it came back in 2017. A different type, a new battle, but still that “c” word.

By then, this kid from Muskegon was pushing close to 80 years old. That’s far enough along in years to have grandkids pursuing careers.

There was this girl from Jenison who wanted to become a nurse.

And she did.

And it was good.

And she was good at it.

And God used her to help people, particularly very sick kids and their families, in very difficult times.

It was hard, but it was good.

And then this girl from Jenison wanted to do more.

And God opened doors and she learned more and figured out more ways to help kids and their families.

And she taught college students who are learning to be nurses.

And she got more education.

After her grandpa was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, she said to her dad, “I think it’s too much to hope for, but I’d love it if Grandpa could be at my graduation.”

Dr. Vanderwell could attend Dr. Vanderwell’s graduation and be part of watching her become the next generation of Dr. Vanderwells.

But it wasn’t to be.

35 days. 

God called the first Dr. Vanderwell home 35 days ago.

For 35 days, there wasn’t a Dr. Vanderwell here on this earth.

But there is again.

In many ways, she’s a different Doctor.

But in many ways, she’s the same and has learned much from the first Dr. Vanderwell.

Do what you do to care for people.

Do what you do to make the world a better place.

Do what you do to spread the love of Jesus.

Today, we witnessed the passing of the torch.

From Grandpa to granddaughter.

While it hurts that he wasn’t able to be “here” to see the graduation, I know, we know, that he saw it from Heaven.

And it was good.

May God continue to bless the new Dr. Vanderwell and give her the continued passion to impact people and change lives like her Grandpa did – even though she’ll do it in her own special way.

And this Dad is proud of both generations today. Proud to be the first Dr. Vanderwell’s son and proud to be the second Dr. Vanderwell’s Dad.

God is good. (All the time)

All the time. (God is good)

Tom